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Social Work Professor Testifies at Senate Hearing on African American Male Unemployment

Photo of Mincy
Mincy, editor of the acclaimed Black Males Left Behind (Urban Institute, 2006), in his office at the Columbia School of Social Work

Ronald Mincy, the Maurice V. Russell Professor of Social Policy and Social Work Practice at the School of Social Work, testified at a March 8 hearing of the Senate's Joint Economic Committee (JEC) on the staggering rates of African American male unemployment.

The hearing marked the first significant effort by the committee, chaired by New York Sen. Charles Schumer, to address the economic status of African Americans since 1990 and it came on the eve of the federal government's release of its latest employment figures. As of January 2007, the unemployment rate for African American men age 20 and older is 7.5 percent.

At the hearing, the JEC examined in more detail, and investigated federal policy solutions, such as job training and social insurance reform, that will help us meet the challenges of this serious problem.

Joblessness among African American men is a growing crisis. Across the country, far too many black men-especially in urban areas-face difficulty finding and keeping work. The numbers are staggering and getting worse. As far back as 1980, a 20-year-old black man was almost twice as likely to be unemployed than a white male of the same age. Even during the economic boom of the 1990s, the annual labor force participation rate of African American males over 20 dropped from 75 percent in 1990 to 72 percent in 1999, and it remained between three and four percentage points below that of white males with few exceptions. The recent downturn in manufacturing jobs will exacerbate African American male unemployment numbers because they make up a large share of those jobs.

Mincy's research focuses on income security policy, family support, the U.S. labor market and urban poverty. He formerly served at the Ford Foundation in several positions related to the treatment of low-income fathers by U.S. welfare, child support and family support systems.

To obtain a copy of Professor Mincy's testimony or to interview him, contact Jeannie Hii at (212) 851-2327 or jy2223@columbia.edu.

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Published: Mar 13, 2007
Last modified: Nov 14, 2007